OSHA conducting new wave of COVID-19 inspections among previously dinged hospitals, nursing facilities

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a new wave of “focused” COVID-19 inspections across hospitals and skilled nursing facilities that previously received citations or complaints.

The initiative will be conducted over a three-month period between March 9 and June 9, according to the agency, and will emphasize monitoring facilities’ “current and future readiness to protect workers from COVID-19.”

Inspectors will be looking to see whether an employer’s previously cited COVID-19 violations or other related complaints and referral items have been corrected as well as whether the employer has implemented a COVID-19 plan involving preparedness, response and control measures for the virus, according to OSHA’s memorandum on the initiative.

Among other measures, inspectors will be reviewing a facility’s COVID-19, injury and illness logs to identify any work-related cases of COVID-19; reviewing hazard assessment procedures and personal protective equipment use protocols; and conducting a “less extensive” walk-around focused specifically on areas designated for COVID-19 patient treatment or handling, according to the agency.

OSHA said its inspections will target facilities falling under four North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes covering general medical and surgical hospitals (NAICS 622110), psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals (NAICS 622210), nursing care facilities (NAICS 623110) and assisted living facilities for the elderly (NAICS 623312).

OSHA said the initiative supplements its targeted enforcement under last summer’s revised COVID-19 National Emphasis Program. It said the newly announced initiative plus the revised program will comprise 15% of the agency’s enforcement activity.

In late December, OSHA pulled the non-recordkeeping portions of its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard for healthcare because it could not issue a final standard on healthcare workers’ COVID-19 protections within a required six-month time frame.

The agency said at the time that it would continue work to develop the final standard and reaffirmed those intentions with this week’s announcement.

“We are using available tools while we finalize a healthcare standard,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker said in a Tuesday statement. “We want to be ahead of any future events in healthcare.”